How are core business values important to your success?

by Jim Kaspari

Core business values do not change over time.  They are not negotiable.  You may have a life-changing event in your life that causes 1 or 2 of your core values to change.  When my little brother died of a heart defect at 4 months old, my dad dedicated the rest of his life to cardiovascular research and product development with his company.  This was a huge change from him, a corporate electrical engineer, but in reality his core values of honesty, working hard and helping others did not change.  It also inspired his team to work hard and be dedicated to helping patients around the world with their efforts.

When identifying core business values, start with your personal core values, then add values that you want in and for your business.  Identifying and writing down your key core business values is vital to your success for several reasons:

  1. Values help you and your team know when you are on the right track, and when to correct course.  Values can guide thinking and actions.  Everyone should be held accountable to the business core values.  They also allow for constructive feedback to be given in a way that reflects that the behavior is inconsistent with the company’s values rather than something to be taken personally.

  2. Values help with principles of decision making. I remember when Tylenol had a problem with someone putting poison in one of their products.  In alignment with their commitment to product quality, they immediately pulled all the products off the shelf and made the bottles tamper-resistant at a huge cost.  I’m sure profitability was something that upper management values, but they put product quality first.

  3. Values help guide you shape your corporate vision and philosophy. Your vision is written as an ideal and you can weave your core values in these powerful sentences.

  4. Core values help define your team’s culture and identity, even some branding.

  5. Values help you hire the right people. Technical ability is trainable, but values like hard work, positive attitude and joy from helping others is innate in the person.  Knowing your core business values can also help you quickly identify who NOT to work with.  Back in 2004, I was doing a lot of real estate investing, a development project (duplex and triplex) and coaching others on building their wealth.  I reached out and met a mentor who owned his own brokerage, title company, etc… and was worth $40 Million.  He was obviously the ideal mentor … I was thrilled.  Then one day we went out golfing and he shanked a ball over the safety net and it hit a truck’s windshield and shattered it.  He dashed towards the golf cart and started to drive away … “get in, let’s go” … I was shocked!  “Aren’t you going to see if the driver is ok and apologize?”  He had a dumb look on his face like I had suggested something crazy.  I walked back to the golf course parking lot and we never spoke again.  My values and integrity are worth much more than money.

  6. When your clients resonate with your core values, you have a competitive advantage. This can also be helpful with recruiting and retention of the best people for your team.

What are core values and how do you identify them?

Values are beliefs that are very important to you, so think about your passions when identifying your strongest values.  Try asking yourself “what makes me angry?  What is the belief system that is being broken or trampled upon here?”  On the other hand you can try asking yourself “what makes me feel great?  How am I behaving when I am at my best?”

Examples include:  helping others, honesty, integrity, health, love, happiness, intelligence, diversity, safety, innovation …

Exercise:  Look online for a list of core business values.  Click here for a list of 500 potential business values.  Pick out 10-15 of your favorites or the ones that mean the most to you.  Don’t choose based on what you think others will think of you, but what is meaningful to you.  For your business, yes, consider the clients and your team in your choices.  Once you have this list, pair off two words at a time and pick the best one of the two.  Continue this process until you’ve narrowed down your list to your top 5.

It may seem like quite a process to go from 500 choices to your top 5, but picking 20 values out of a list goes fairly fast.  Narrowing down from 20 to 5 takes time and consideration, but remember that these choices will last a very long time and serve you well, so it’s worth the time and highly recommended.

To test to the longevity of your business’ core values, consider the following question: “If your company was so successful that it were sold you were a multi-millionaire would you still hold the same values?”

If you want help facilitating this exercise or have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact Coach Jim at (707) 246-3646 or email Jim@PEAKBusinessCoaching.com.